Primary Care Liaison

Chalazion or stye

  • The following pre-referral guideline covers chalazion or stye. Please see other ophthalmology guidelines as needed.

    See resources for referral form, parent information and more.

    Pre-referral assessment, treatment and when to refer

    A: Chalazia / stye - lump in or beneath the skin of the eyelid

    1. Chalazia and styes will often disappear on their own.
    2. Treat with warm compresses (clean, warm washcloth held against closed eyelid) for 2-5 minutes, up to 20 times per day.
    3. Most will expand in size and then spontaneously rupture. Topical antibiotics are of limited value in this situation.
    4. Refer non-urgently for excision when chalazion / stye is unresponsive to this treatment for more than 3 months.

    B: Skin around the chalazion / stye appears cellulitic or painful

    1. Commence chloramphenicol ointment or drops, or oral antibiotics as appropriate.
    2. Review in 1-2 days to re-evaluate. 
    3. Refer IMMEDIATELY if complications are unresponsive to antibiotic treatment.
      Fax referral to 03 9345 5034 and call 03 9345 6180 to note urgent referral.

    Contact information

    RCH Switchboardtelephone (03) 9345 5522

    For clinical advice ask for:

    • Ophthalmology registrar or consultant on-call
      • Department of Ophthalmology - clinical advice (or direct dial 03 9345 5630)
      • Emergency Department - for clinical advice after hours
    For outpatient bookings fax to 03 9345 5034 (number also on referral form)
    • For urgent appointments also call 03 9345 6180

    Admission enquiries ask for:

    • General admission enquiries (or direct dial 03 9345 6172)
    • ED admission enquiries: (or direct dial 03 9345 6477)



    Paediatric Handbook (2009). Eye Conditions, Chapter 23 (pp357-368). James Elder and Peter Barnett. 8th Ed, Blackwell Publishing by the Staff of the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne. Australia.


    Please give feedback on this guideline - / telephone: (03) 9345 4645 / fax (03) 9345 4650

    Last updated

    Last update: August 2011

    Guideline developed by the RCH Department of Ophthalmology in consultation with a GP Review Group. Many thanks to the GPs involved in the review.  First published Dec 2007.  Reviewed August 2009. Please read  Copyright and Disclaimer.